We did have 1 baptism this week though, for Carren. It was so awesome.she texted us asking if we were going to come over to her house because she read the scripture we assigned her, so me and the other elder went over there. It was awesome. We talked to her a little more about her baptism and getting ready for it. When we went back the day before, with Elder Abel this time, she shared with us her testimony and it was really special to hear that. Then at night we got a long text message from her thanking us for teaching her and helping her, and having the gospel in her life. She ended it with a hashtag #Excitedtobebaptized and me and Abel were just so pumped for her. We had her baptism the next day and it was awesome, and we went down to 7-11 after and got some ice cream. The next day we confirmed her and she asked me to do it, which was nervewracking, but it was good. She is getting embraced by the branch already and is just awesome, we are so excited for her and her two kids.
I realized how important the ward is in missionary work, maybe I have said this before, but they need to be there to embrace the new members. The branch here does a pretty good job, Abner the 14 year old that was baptized got the priesthood and passed the sacrament for the first time yesterday, and I thought that was super special for his family, because now they have a priesthood holder in their home.
We have a few more baptisms coming up this week, a family that I am really excited for. I'm sure it is really hard for you to keep track of all the names that I put in here, but the Galang family, the one with the really tall kid that loves basketball and is super interested, are going to be baptized! That is really cool too, and the Dad is supportive as well, but he just needs to go to church, he has work on sundays so it's really hard.
So I wanted to just talk about the Philippines and different stuff that I have noticed, so maybe you can get more of a feel of where I am and what it is like here. So to start, they love America. They want to be just like America, but they are pretty far off haha. An example is they drive on the right side of the road because in America we do, but they lack the rules of the road. So there are no stop lights, I have never seen one here. And only people that have really good jobs will have a car, and even then it's rare. Mostly everyone takes public transportation, which is either a jeepney, or a tricycle. So a Jeepney will take you to different cities, they only drive on the highway- But the highway is like our highway, houses and shops are along the side of it, and it is only 2 lanes wide, maybe 4 if it is a really big road. And jeepneys drive max about 40 miles an hour, and even that is pretty rare. So how do you get on a jeepney? You stand on the side of the road and look for the hand painted sign they have in their window to see what city they are going to. In a jeepney they have a driver who will sometimes collect the money if it is a short trip, or a conductor will do it, and they will lean out the window yelling at anyone on the side of the road to get in. So the jeepney is constantly slowing down almost to a stop to get people on the jeep, and they will CRAM them full.
Alright so when you are on a jeep, you can get off anytime by saying "Para!" or tapping the roof, or pulling a string that triggers a light to the driver, and then they stop really fast, and pull to the right side of the road, and you get out. To pay when you get on, you can give the money anytime, and you pass up money to the guy next to you, and say "bayad po" and then they pass it all the way up until it gets to the conductor or the driver, and nothing has a set price, but you figure out how much it usually costs. So a short ride is 8 pesos, and that would be from one end of our area to the other end. So it's pretty much the coolest thing, and every jeepney is painted crazy and the good ones have music so it's a good time.
Trikes will take you anywhere you go, and is 10 pesos, unless it is up a lot of hills or far they might charge you more, they are the ones that will rip you off the most if you aren't sure on the price, so you cant always ask them how much it is. But they just take you straight there, and swerve through all different kinds of cars and jeepneys. you can fit 2 people behind the driver sitting sideways and 4 people in the side car, they fill it up if they can. Driving is crazy here, they can go in the other lane if they want to pass you, motorcycles are just squeezing in between people, and they honk to let you know they are there. Some of them change their horns too, so it's not strange to hear a ambulance siren coming from a horn, so when an actual ambulance does come, no one moves out of the way. But I haven't seen an accident yet, it's insane to say the least.
They have different Fast food restaurants here, like Burger King, McDonalds, Jollibee (I had never heard of that but I guess we have them back home) and so on, but Jollibee is the biggest here. We have one in our area, and they have like 20 people working there, actually probably 30. It's crazy, all of the fast food do, and it's considered a pretty good job. At the mall in the department stores, there is like 5 people in each section just standing around waiting to help you. And at these places, the american kind (Fast food, mall, ect.) they try to speak english to you, because speaking english is considered being more classy I guess is the best way to describe it, or Sosyal is what they call it. And when we speak in Tagalog they freak out haha.
I think one of the hardest things to get used to is the houses. Some of the ones we go in are smaller than our garage, and they have so little, but almost all of the members especially recent converts or less actives have pictures of the missionaries that taught them. Some of the only books that they have are the book of mormon and maybe something else, but usually church related. The walls to most houses are cinder blocks, with concrete and the sides are smoothed on the inside sometimes, so they tape the picture of the missionaries up, as well as a picture of Christ. They just love the missionaries and can tell you all of the names of the past missionaries almost to a year back, it's crazy!
Another thing is Tindahans. Tindahans might be the coolest thing haha, they are just little shops out of people's windows, I think stephen explained it the best, but yeah we have them too, and they sell soda out of glass bottles, but you have to give the bottle back to them, so if you want to take it on the go, they put it in a plastic bag and give you a straw. But you can buy anything, and they are only selling it about 1 or 2 pesos above what they bought it for. And there will be multiple tindahans on a street.
The last thing I will say is the Philippines is crazy about basketball, just crazy about it. You can't walk down the street without seeing a basketball jersey of some kind, but they have jersey shops, so you can get a jersey made with whatever you want on it. So if you want boston colors with Lakers on it instead, you can, and you can get your name on the back. Or you can make up your own colors, own logo, and name, so a lot of people have their own custom ones, it's really cool. No one has tv, so I don't know how they know players, they just go on youtube I guess and look stuff up, videos and what not. One of our investigators said he learned how to play by watching some how to videos, I thought that was impressive. They will play on a dirt half court with a hoop that's not exactly 10 feet, a wooden backboard and a metal ring to be the rim. They have some nice covered outdoor courts where they play, but usually in flip flops or bare feet. And they play basketball like soccer! They just cherry pick but call it a fast break... so when someone makes it they just chuck the ball down to the other end, so it ends up looking like soccer because they have the defenders, mid field, and attackers ha.
That was pretty long and I will close with something I learned in my personal study, from 3 Nephi. The people were just humbled and then they had only about 4 years of peace, one of the most dramatic and fastest cycles of the pride cycle. The Lamanites stayed faithful because they were steadfast and diligent in keeping the ways of the lord, but the others were lifted up in pride. They sought power, and things of the world, and were lifted up in pride, which was caused by Satan. Satan does things that make us prideful because when we are prideful, we don't have faith. We don't rely completely on Heavenly Father, we think that we can do things on our own, and don't want help. But Heavenly Father is offering us free help, and to rely on Him for everything. Satan is REAL, he wants us to forget Heavenly Father, and when we slip or mess up just a little bit, but things are still okay, we then allow those things to become a normal thing, and it is little by little that we slowly stop relying on the Lord. Commandments are not restrictions, but allow us to be even happier. I know that is true, because I have seen the people that follow them are so much more happier than those that don't, even if they don't know that they are violating commandments. If we are like the Lamanites and steadfast and diligent, we won't fall into Satan's traps.
Thank you for all of your support!! I love you all!